Our Blessings

Our Blessings

Sunday, December 14, 2014

She's officially OURS!

Our first court validation appointment was scheduled for National Adoption Day - which apparently is very fun day at court - they have balloons and face painting and it's a big ol' party with families scheduled back to back throughout the day. That date happened to be the same date as the girls' dance rehearsal and performance. So...we rescheduled. 

There wasn't a party waiting for us - so we brought our own. 

They got to sit in the Jury Box. The judge did turn and ask them if any of them thought there was any reason that Angie shouldn't be a part of our family. Thankful for the love, support and prayers from these people (and others that couldn't be there). Oh...and they all voted that Angie should be ours! Whew! ;)

Judge Howard is such a great guy! He validated Loe & Ren's adoption as well. He's an adoptive father and I think this is the fun part of his job. He asks good questions and is genuinely interested in each family and child. But, also makes sure everyone is comfortable and having fun. (Note the balloons in the background.) He wanted to know who each person was and talked to each of our kids. 

After we finished he invited Angie up to sit in his chair. She loved that! 

Vivi had to get in on that action. She liked the gavel maybe a little too much! :)

She was nervous before we entered the courtroom. But, by the end she was having fun! And a purple balloon didn't hurt. 

Love my family. The way they welcome in our kiddos - by birth or adoption. (We were sad that Chase couldn't make it.)

And here is the rest of our crew...a portion of the amazing family in Christ that makes up our incredible support system. So thankful for each one of them!

No words needed here...melt. 

Because Angie's birthday was just a couple of days away - we decided it would work well to have a little celebration following the court appointment. It was an unusually mild December day - in the 60's. So we walked over to Walrus for some ice cream. The girls are walking with Auntie Betsy - she was the sweet gal who took care of these 3 when we were in Colombia. She loves our girls and the feeling is mutual!

Angie with a few sisters and a few friends. We couldn't ask for better friends - these sweet girls and a few others. They love Jesus and have become so dear to our girl. Major answer to prayer!

LOVE these ladies! Betsy supported us as we prepared to travel and during our time away. Leaving my 3 little girls and being apart for 2 weeks - was SO very difficult. Betsy endured my novel-length emails as we prepared to leave. She loved and spoiled them while we were gone. We will be forever grateful for her blessing us during that season. Kelly has been the angel to give us occasional MUCH needed dates away. (With our crew - it's truly respite - with the various issues, behaviors and challenges - we don't leave often and we can't just leave them with anyone. They need to feel safe and secure and we need to know that the person caring for them is aware of the needs and has a ton of patience and compassion as well as wisdom about our unique situation. That's Kelly - in a nutshell.) And then there is Jeni. She is such a dear friend. We all call her our honorary adoptive mom. She's listened to hour upon hour of adoption stories and issues. She knows the terminology and names of the experts - she could probably hand out advice with the best of them! But, more importantly she (and a few other precious friends) are there to be on their knees with us as we walk through the tough stuff. She is there to laugh and cry and drink caffeine together. And it's fun that Loe is sitting here with them - she is such a gem. The way she has poured out her heart and energy for her big sis is incredible. Love her heart!

After we all enjoyed a scoop of ice cream - we sang to Angie. It was an emotional day for our girl - as are most days. Having a quick, casual ice cream "party" was perfect. On her birthday we had a quiet family dinner. Well...as quiet as our family gets with these kiddos. We're looking forward to planning a special party for her sweet 16th birthday next year if she's up for it. 

Viv hitched a ride back to the car. She loves Auntie Kelly SOOOO much! 

Grandma hugs are the best!

What a blessing to celebrate Angie's adoption and be on this side of it all. She's been home for over 8 months now. The challenges continue to be great. This gives us opportunities every day to speak truth, allow Jesus to shine His light into the dark places. We cling to Him for strength and wisdom. So thankful for His grace and mercies. Angie is an amazing, precious daughter and we love her dearly.  What a sweet privilege it is to be her forever family!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Night Before Advent

We've always loved December. It's filled with beauty, traditions, family, delicious flavors and aromas. We have 23 years (and many more before marriage) of memories. Yet, holidays can be challenging for many adopted kids with histories of trauma. We have some daughters who can use a month filled with Hope! Fresh reminders each day of Jesus - our Healer, Redeemer, Savior...our Hope.  celebrating advent...preparing to embrace the amazing reality of the Gift given to a lost and dying world. In Him we have life...eternal. In Him we have peace and joy and everything we need. Ann Voskamp's blog has been a source of encouragement to me for years. The focus on who Christ is and how much He has one for us. It changes our focus and our heart...and our lives.So, I was thrilled to see this new book about Advent along with ornaments to buy or print and color. Even printouts for a "Night Before Advent Hot Chocolate Party"! I'm not a very crafty mom - so this made it easy to have a special night for my girls and prepare for Advent.

While the girls were downstairs playing I prepared our little party. We had hot chocolate with whipped cream AND sprinkles! Cookies and popcorn. When they caught on that I was up to something - they could hardly stand the suspense - knocking and asking if they could come up every few minutes. 

We read Ann's poem, The Night Before Advent. It perfectly captured my heart's desire for this December. 

While I read the girls sipped their hot chocolate and enjoyed their treats. 

Our little Jesse Tree is all ready to be adorned with our advent ornaments. 

They opened up the beautiful new book and ornaments.  

My three year old has already paged through the book several times so it's looking well-loved already. :)

They also opened up a box with new pajamas for each one. 

They have been asking for footy pjs! I envisioned cozy, wintry or Christmas-themed pajamas. But, these are what I found and they love them! They are a bunch of adorable, wild things - so it's appropriate! ;)

We all enjoyed our sweet, meaningful evening. A new family tradition - celebrating the countdown to the day we remember Jesus coming to save us. Oh, how we need saving!


We are only two nights into Advent and are already looking forward to the reading and discussion each night. I printed out an ornament for each one to color each night. They sit fairly quietly, coloring as they listen. Amazing. :)

The first night was incredibly timely. I had spent time talking and crying with one of my girls just moments before we sat down for our Advent reading. This happens frequently as we work slowly through her history and all of the trauma she endured before she came to us. Anytime we take our eyes off of Jesus - all of this just becomes too much. Too dark. Too hopeless. So, this reminder was just exactly what we needed. I had to pause several times while reading through tears. 

Jesus is just so very, very faithful to us as we parent. An to our kids who were grafted into our family tree. 

Praying that instead of fear, worry, hopelessness and pain - this month will be flooded with sweet, an powerful new memories. Reminders of the miracle of the Hope we have in the One who came to earth as a tiny baby and grew up to draw the little ones close. To love the least of these. To go after the lost sheep. To walk with those He loved. To heal and make whole those who followed Him.

What a perfect example of how we can meet the needs of our children. Thankful that as I abide in Him - He abides in me - allowing me to love others the way He loves me.

(I shot some of these pics on my camera and after loading them onto my computer - my computer stopped working! So, I pulled them out of the cloud onto my phone to "edit" them! I filled in the gaps with a few pics taken on my old iPad, which is where I'm doing this post. Gotta love technology!) 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

So Thankful

We are so thankful for God's faithfulness in our lives. He supplies us with strength when we are weary, wisdom when we are unsure which way to turn and...

joy when hopelessness begins knocking. We are thankful for laughter - can't imagine life without it!  As we continue to work through a lot of trauma and grieving, going to various types of therapy and doctor's appointments and finding ways to keep everyone healthy, safe and secure, work on attachments and connecting and live the rest of our life with 4 of our 6 kids at home...we still have to weigh out each outing and event. Though for the most part the girls really enjoy being with friends and family - too much can be overstimulating for some and stir up all kinds of stuff.  So, because of this and a few other things we knew would be coming up - we decided keeping Thanksgiving low-key at home was the best plan. The girls were thrilled that Grandma and Grandpa came to join us! 

There was hide-n-seek, lots of visiting and of course some tickling and playing. It was a precious and much needed time with my folks and my kiddos. 

ALL six of my kiddos! 

Spending the day with these two handsome guys makes my heart so, so full! I am so proud to be their mama and so thankful for the friendship we have now that they are adults. It's so amazing to pray for them and see the gifts God has placed within them develop and turn into jobs and careers. They are both earning a living doing what they are passionate about - love that!

It was strange to think that as far as we can remember this was our first Thanksgiving at home. We've always spent it somewhere with family. Our extended family relationships have shifted. Everyone is busy in a different season of life. The meal could intimidate some...but that's where having my own personal (and incredibly good-looking!) chef comes in handy. 

I got to visiting and helping and didn't get very many good food pics. We had the usual ham, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, Trev's famous sweet potatoes, some really yummy parmesan-cracked peppercorn bread and white rolls from Great Harvest (a rare, but worthwhile splurge I picked up when I was there last week!). And instead of baking a whole turkey for our smaller group - Trev roasted turkey breasts - not just plain old turkey. But, some kind of herb-infused, fried prosciutto covered goodness. I usually either pass on turkey or take a tiny piece just cause it's Thanksgiving and all. But, this time I so enjoyed the delicious turkey that I have only eaten that for leftovers! 

My folks brought some yummy chips and dips, a chocolate pie and an ice cream cake. (Which made a few girls VERY happy!) I made my usual pumpkin pie with cream cheese which makes it taste SO silky and yummy - it's a good thing I only make these once a year! And of course homemade whipped cream - because once I did that years and years ago - we couldn't go back to cool whip. 

It was great to spend time catching up with Chase after dinner before he drove back to Denver. And Hunter hung out until after we got the girls in bed and watched a movie with us - just like old times. 

Though I love things about every season - fall is my favorite. This. This is why! 
Takes my breath away! 

Thanksgiving is that last bit of fall before the glorious Christmas season begins. Loe and I popped into Hobby Lobby the other day and all of their fall decor was 80% off...SCORE!

So we picked up this big, fun lantern that I'm hopeful I can take apart and refill with other things through out the year. We keep decorations pretty simple in every season. So, my favorite types of things are items that we can change for each season. Like simple baskets. 

And these candle holders that live on our island filled with various things throughout the year. 

This big ol' wreath for our big ol' door was fun since it was SO cheap. I just can't see spending a ton of money on a wreath - or making my own. But, I love them and was happy to find one on clearance!

 When the girls had an evening with Auntie Kelly and their friend Karen recently - they painted these pretty jars and put candles inside. They are gracing our mantel. 

It was a day to be thankful for. And we are so blessed as we look back at the Lord's faithfulness to us this past year. It has NOT been an easy year. And yet I wouldn't trade the depth of love and relationship I've experienced with Jesus. We aren't yet at a place of looking back and rejoicing over healing and giant steps forward yet. But, we see bit by bit - He is at work. Both in us and our kiddos. 

Give thanks to the LORD for His love endures forever. 
Psalm 107:1